I was at Manchester last night. It was a truly wonderful show - Michael said he was feeling dreadful at the stage door but you would never have known it from his performance. He came on to huge applause to a house packed to the rafters. His voice was magnificent - you have to be at a concert to appreciate the power and beauty of it. He was very chatty and was obviously enjoying himself despite the fact that he wasn't feeling 100% health-wise. The girls screamed and there were lots of roses and bouquets of flowers (not to mention lace panties) flying about towards the stage.
The first half was beautiful with Michael singing songs from the musicals and some gorgeous ballads. The second half was even better if that is possible and the "party" started with Why Haven't I Heard From You? and continued with the audience getting louder and wilder by the minute. When I looked at the circle and the balcony behind me everyone was up dancing and waving their arms around and yelling their heads off between every song. What a great atmosphere Manchester always has - they love Michael! When the girls rushed to the stage I saw six bouncers try to hold them back - the one nearest to me held his hand out to try to stop them and was last seen disappearing under a tidal wave of female flesh desperate to get to Michael! Michael said to the bouncers "You'd better let them come up lads" - as if they had had any choice!
Michael came back for an encore to an audience almost entirely on its feet cheering and you could hear feet stamping all the way around the theatre. He looked so pleased at the reaction of the audience and so did his band. He came back on with Hot Stuff and I didn't think the noise from the audience could get any louder. He finished off with "You Made Me Love You" and after the words "I didn't want to do it", the audience yelled back with the now customary "Yes you did!" at which Michael always laughs.
He had on a lovely new light blue jacket at the end and he said "Do you like my new jacket?" and he gave us a twirl! We liked it!
Thanks for another wonderful evening Michael - I can now hardly wait for the Albert Hall on Monday. Hope you are feeling better Michael.
Letter to Jackie:
I will be leaving home again tomorrow morning and heading for the south coast to stay with my friend and from there we will be going to the Albert Hall (both concerts), Bournemouth, Brighton and Cardiff. I hope that Michael will be well enough to complete the tour.
The concert at Manchester was just fabulous. They seem to be getting ever better! Everyone keeps saying York was wonderful, the second night even better, Sheffield was wonderful, Liverpool was fabulous and Manchester the best yet! A girl in front of me at Manchester had never seen Michael before and she kept repeating out loud "I cannot believe what I'm hearing. I cannot believe him. He's brilliant. I love him!" Over and over again!
I looked around near the end of the show and I've never seen so many happy and radiant faces. Even the bouncers said they had never seen anything like it. (Once they had emerged from being trampled on!) I was laughing out loud when I saw one of them just disappear with his mouth going into a big startled "o". Those girls were determined!
Hugh and I had a short stopover at home and then it was down to Dorset to stay with my very good friend Jan. Hugh wasn't going to the Albert Hall and, as Jan and Andrea had to work, they weren't planning on setting off for the concert until around 4.30pm. As I didn't want to miss spending some more time with Julie and Steve I decided to get the train on my own up to London. Because of the chaos on the railways I had a bit of a scare when we were told that the train would terminate at Clapham Junction! Then they changed their minds and thankfully we went to Waterloo, which was quite handy seeing as that's where I had booked to go! The train was an hour late so I got a taxi to the Albert Hall - a good decision as the tube would have taken much longer and I would have missed meeting some lovely people.
On arriving at the Albert Hall to meet up with Julie and Steve for Michael's first concert there, I saw lots of fans, among them Caroline Harris and her friend Shari from Utah. (Oops sorry Caroline, two incredibly beautiful women from Utah!) Caroline had had to "drag" Shari to the first concert but subsequent concerts she went to willingly! Linda, another Forum regular, heard me say my name and came over to say hello. (Linda also knew me from Trudy's Corner on Kerstin's site!). We also talked to Barbara who had come all the way from China .
Julie had her book and the wine with her and we had a little chat with Malcy the coach driver. He was much more in evidence this year - I think he is rather enjoying his new found celebrity after being introduced by Michael on the RAH video! I thought it might be an idea for Julie to give Malcy the book and wine and Malcy promised to give it to Michael. It was me who approached Malcy about this and I told him the book had nothing to do with me but that I was putting my spoke in! He said jokingly "Well, keep your bloody spoke out!" He's a good Yorkshire lad with a good blunt sense of humour that I understand so well. When Malcy saw the wine he said "Oh, he'll like that!"
Malcy took the book and wine in for Michael and then came out and told us he had left them in Michael's dressing room with the book open.
All the people I met up with were lovely and friendly and I had such a nice time talking to everyone, I almost forgot about Michael arriving!
Then we saw the limousine with darkened windows approaching and there was this ripple going through everyone as all of a sudden there he was. Julie had said to me earlier that she had begun to think that Michael wasn't real - but he's real all right! He looked lovely - his hair quite long and the curls blowing around a little in the breeze. As he got out of the car last year everyone was silent. This year there was a big "Oooooooh"! He was smiling and charming as ever. Linda went to him straightaway (I wish I was forward like that) and he said "Hello Linda, how are you?" She said "Do you remember me?" and he said "Yeeeees, course I do". Isn't he great?
Allen Spriggs, the tour manager, was trying to usher Michael through very quickly and quite frankly he needs to take lessons in manners from Michael. Michael was chatting to someone about whatever it was they wanted him to sign and Allen said "Just sign the bloody thing!" People were laughing but I wasn't at all keen on his manner. Michael spotted a little girl being carried by her mum and went over and kissed her. Allen called out loudly "You're not supposed to kiss anyone!" (Presumably because of the risk of getting another infection.) Another fan said to Michael "Can I kiss you on your cheek?" and he said "Of course you can". I was so close to him but I never touched him at all - why? After signing a few more autographs and posing for pictures, Michael was finally ushered in. Julie was thrilled to bits (so was I) - I was so happy she had finally got to see him in the flesh!
While Julie and I were doing our oohing and aahing bit having a good goggle at Michael, Steve was busy taking some great photos. Oh what an asset it is to have a photographer with you who is 6'3" tall! And stood on a ledge of the Albert Hall! Well done Steve!
(Steve and Julie have kindly given permission for me to post their photographs so they can be seen with this article.)
The concert was great - not the best of the tour - but the Albert Hall is hard to work as audiences there are notoriously restrained usually. For the Albert Hall this was a good crowd with a good response to Michael, which got better as the concert wore on. By the rock 'n roll section people were up and dancing although I noticed a few older people looking extremely bemused by it all. Sometimes they come to listen to a lovely singer of the musicals and end up being part of a very loud rock 'n roll session!
During the concert Michael said "Do you mind if I do something?" and then took his tie off. One girl with a very strong East London accent yelled out "TIKE 'EM AWL ORF MOICHAW!" (I don't think an interpretation is needed!) Michael shouted with laughter very quickly but didn't respond in words.
After the show we bumped into Julie and Steve again - they both thoroughly enjoyed the show. Steve said "He's great, just great". Julie I think was beyond words! We had to then say our goodbyes. They are a lovely couple and I was sad to say goodbye to them.
I drove up from Dorset to London for the second Albert Hall concert and parked the car a couple of streets away (where there were no parking fees!) and we were all walking from the car and spotted Michael's dad Tony coming from his car on the other corner!
He recognised us immediately and gave us all a kiss and a hug. He put his arms round us and we walked to the Albert Hall all hugging each other! He is such a lovely man. He told us that Michael was feeling very much better.
I wasn't sure about how the second night at the Albert Hall would be, as the first night I knew would have had plenty of fan club members in the audience to give Michael a rousing welcome. However, the second night audience was just as receptive and again Michael gave a very good performance not too dissimilar from the first night. The sound at the Albert Hall is not great at all - there was an echo to Michael's voice whenever he spoke. He spoke quite a lot during these concerts - he seems to like sharing emotions these days. He is a lot more serious than he used to be generally - I suppose he is getting older like us all. At one time he used to giggle his way through but now he seems to want us to listen to what he has to say. Michael greeted a few people in the audience by going over to their seats and waving to them.
Another LONG drive back and the next day we were talking to one another and saying how glad we were there wasn't a concert that night as we were too tired. Then we looked at one another and said, can you imagine saying that? How daft! I'm sure Michael must have felt the same way, only about ten times more so!
The next day I met up with another American e-mail pal, Mary Young from Missouri, at her hotel in Bournemouth and we spent the afternoon having a very nice chat.
The Bournemouth concert was great - one of the best. Michael looked really good and was also much more chatty and relaxed. We had front row seats and got a great view. It was nice to be so close you could see the blue of Michael's eyes and the expression in them.
I also spotted the usual - Michael looks along the front row and I am sure it is to pick out who is he going to kiss later, i.e. the prettiest one there by and large! There was a very lovely girl on the front row who Michael gave a good look at and I just knew she was going to be the one! Yes - she was!
Michael chose this concert to personally thank Maureen and Gill from the Fan Club, which I thought was a nice gesture. Bet they were thrilled to hear their names spoken at a Michael concert. By Michael!
Even on the front row I still didn't beat some people to the stage during the rush. God, some of these women ought to be on the Olympic team, we'd have gone up in the medal tables in no time! When you're on the front row the disadvantage is that you HAVE to get to the stage, otherwise you just can't see any more. People are getting more and more discourteous in this and I was pushed and shoved a lot by people trying to get right to the stage. Two girls right next to me screamed their heads off in my left ear and there was no escape! (The following night a girl screamed her head off in my right ear so I suppose at least I will now go deaf in both ears equally!)
I was so close to Michael by that time I nearly had my head next to his knee and I was fascinated by how big his thumbs are and how widely separated they are from the rest of his hands! I was actually quite overcome at being that close to such a big sexy man. He really is absolutely gorgeous. I thought, he's just like a great big bear . The rest is censored! I'm surprised I didn't have steam coming out of my ears! I decided that I might be 53 on the outside but inside there must be some hormones aged about 16 still floating about! Michael puts his all into his singing - hence the famous "sexiest spit in town". It's true - being at the front near Michael can get quite damp!
The girl singled out for a kiss was very pretty (naturally!) and Michael bent right down level in front of her, looked her straight in the eyes and crooked his finger - come here. I went weak at the knees! And it wasn't even me! After the kiss the girl literally did go weak at the knees and sort of collapsed against her friend - swoon!
Some of the girls took advantage of Michael being that close. When he sat down on the circular bit right at the edge of the stage a girl immediately put his hand on his knee. Michael said "How did I know you were going to do that?" with a big grin. Everyone was laughing at this girl stroking his knee all the time and then a few others joined in with Michael getting both knees and lower legs well stroked by that time! I was close enough to touch again but I didn't. I knew why this time though - touching someone on the arm or shoulder is one thing, groping is quite another, and something I just wouldn't do.
Eventually one girl threatened to get a little too adventurous so Michael decided discretion was the better part of valour and got up! Michael did tend to keep his distance a little more this tour, mostly because lots of girls were grabbing at his legs as he went past.
When Michael got to the bit when he takes off his tie and all the girls started screaming he said "Now none of that. My mother's in tonight. Hello mum, wherever you are".
During the interval I visited the loo and overheard a conversation about Michael being "kicked out of his hotel room". I am of course not one to listen in to other people's conversations so I listened raptly!
From what I overhead some fans had gone to the coach to ask to be shown around and I presume it was Malcy who said that Michael was asleep on the coach. He said "Oooooooer", indicating Michael in BAD MOOD! It turned out that there had been some sort of mix up with bookings and Michael was expected to be out of his hotel room at 12.30pm when he had wanted to leave at 4.30pm! Michael had apparently tried to ring Phil but they had cut off his phone!
During the concert Michael said "You won't believe what happened earlier". He turned to the band and said "Shall I tell them?" Then he answered himself and said "Yes, I think I will!" He then told us the story of his phone call from the receptionist - I cannot now recall her name - and gave a really funny imitation of her saying "I don't think so Mr Ball, you're only booked in until half past twelve". Michael then said "So if you're in room 707 of The Hilton Hotel, well you're in my room and you got me kicked out !" (putting on crying voice).
At the end when he got a roaring ovation he took his ear plugs out (as he did every night) so that he could hear the applause better and this was the first time I have actually seen him hugging himself with the applause. He didn't leave the hotel incident alone but said "Well, I've been really tired and have been ill as well and been kicked on to the streets of Bournemouth (crying tone again) but you have made me feel a lot better!"
The Bournemouth concert was great - I really enjoyed that one. Good sound - nice venue and perfect seats.
The next day we picked Mary up from her Bournemouth hotel with me driving us to Brighton. I was so glad Hugh was there because that's when the weather turned really bad and was the start of the worst storms in Britain for over fifty years. We drove through an area which little did we know the next morning would be completely flooded. I was supposed to drive there and Hugh drive back but the conditions were getting really bad and as Hugh is a much more experienced driver than me, he took over as I was feeling really uncomfortable.
The weather in Brighton was absolutely atrocious. Nevertheless the place was packed and the atmosphere great - we met up with Elaine and Karen again which was great. We were planning to use their room for a late night picnic but it was too small so we ended up in the car park! We nearly froze to death but we laughed plenty anyway!
The crowd surged forward at Brighton far too early when the lights were down and I actually felt embarrassed at being part of this spectacle. One lady fell really heavily face down - I tried to help her but was pushed forward myself by the crowd. I asked her if she was OK and she was but I thought this is getting ridiculous.
Other than that the concert was brilliant. Michael was on very good form and the audience very receptive. Again, there were a few rows of older people who looked very alarmed at the noise and commotion that Michael generates among the fans. I don't know why they are startled at all the screams and sighs because Michael is generally very well known as a heart-throb figure. I really do think they come to see a musical theatre singer instead of a singer who sings pretty much everything and from appreciative applause during the musicals numbers they go to sitting there with shocked looks on their faces. A Daniel O'Donnell concert it ain't!
It was during the interval of this concert that I waved to Jean from New Zealand. She gave me a lovely wave from her seat and looked really friendly, it's a pity I didn't get to meet her.
One more thing, while we were chatting afterwards to Geoff Eales, who was busy flogging his C.D. to Mary (he must carry around a supply!), Michael's coach was held up by the traffic and we missed him hanging out of the coach for ages chatting to fans. Rats and double rats! Still, the weather was truly appalling and we would have got really wet. So it was a good thing really. We kept nice and dry instead. RATS! DOUBLE RATS!
The drive back was through horrendous weather - worsening the whole time. We said our goodbyes to Mary in Bournemouth and headed back to Wimborne in Michael's (and every other English person's word for that matter), "knackered".
The drive to Cardiff the next day was even worse weather-wise. By that time we knew that the storms were among the worst for years. The trains had more or less stopped, all flights delayed or cancelled, towns flooded, the whole works. We got to the centre of Cardiff only to find they had dug the place up for alterations, which made finding the International Arena a nightmare and added to the general chaos. By the way, brilliant diversion signs Cardiff City Council! Only got lost four times! We ended up in a queue of traffic going who knows where and by the time we realised where we were going we were in queue for a car park! Whether we liked it or not! We didn't!
What with all the delays everywhere I fully expected the Arena to be half full but it was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was electric there. This was definitely the best concert that I went to. Michael was top, top, top. Full of beans - the audience reception was phenomenal. There was a big video screen showing Michael although we didn't need it because we were on the third row. Nanananana! Brilliant seats and a perfect view! Cardiff Arena is huge (about 6,000 capacity) but it's a lovely venue and very comfortable. Plus - it was the only theatre I went to that had enough ladies loos to go around. I managed to get a drink for the first time. Yes! We sat directly behind Tricia (an American fan) and her husband, who was there for the first time. Tricia was really nice - also sitting with them was Pat Webb, another familiar face I was very pleased to see.
At the interval Tricia turned to her husband and said "Well, what's the verdict?" He said "Wonderful". I think he was relieved to see another man in close proximity, i.e. Hugh. They consoled each other about having wives devoted to another man!
The Cardiff concert was quite wonderful. This was my 39 th Michael concert (my first one was in September 1993) and the thrill was just the same. My favourite songs were basically those I had at the beginning of the concert tour. During the tour Michael replaced My Heart Will Go On with Think Twice (the Celine Dion song). This went down very well with the audience, but later he dropped it. What a pity as for my money he could have dropped Love on the Rocks for that one. Plus, he dropped I Don't Want a Lover (Hugh's favourite and another hit with the fans), which he could have dropped Something Inside So Strong for (just my opinion). I think he was trying to save his voice but I felt it a pity he dropped two new songs and kept old ones in.
Why Haven't I Heard From You was great fun and was a huge favourite with the audience. Walking in Memphis was received brilliantly too and remains my absolute favourite. Losing My Mind was stunning, showing Michael at his consummate best as a musical performer. The emotion he displayed was breathtaking. The musicals section was always well received - people generally clapped when he announced it, at which point he always said something like "Good I'm glad you like the musicals because if you don't you're going to be really bored during this next bit but the bar's open!"
He would say before starting the musicals section that he had worked with the three composers he was going to concentrate on, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Stephen Sondheim and that he was very proud to call them "friends". Then he would say "that sounds so luvvie and showbizzy doesn't it?" This also became more elaborated as time when on with funny voices etc!
After singing No Matter What, Michael said that it was by a little known composer trying to make a name for himself, Andrew Lloyd Webber!
He made quite a moving speech before Empty Chairs and I Dreamed a Dream. He talked about the first song being about the loss of one's hopes and the second one being about the loss of something very precious - something we all start out with but always lose - and that is the loss of innocence. It was a very effective introduction to both songs.
On the introduction to the song If Tomorrow Never Comes, Michael would talk about hearing this song when he was first in New York. He said he was feeling very lonely away from family and friends for the first time (big aaaaaaaaahs from the audience!) and this song moved him.
Before the song "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" Michael would say that the band members had complained and whinged about not being at the front and in the spotlight. He said they were all saying how could they pull? After this song came the "Charge of the Michael Brigade" and Michael took to saying "Look guys, you've pulled!" During this song the members of the band increasingly went "bananas", getting funnier and funnier each evening! There was a very tall man on the right hand side at the end who made everyone laugh as he had no sense of rhythm whatsoever! They were all good sports.
After the interval he asked us if we had had a nice drink. (Actually, no. Busy queueing up in the loos Michael!) He told us he had had a drink and he was raring to go. Later on it developed into him having a Red Bull - that later got elaborated by being fully charged, later on elaborated further by pushing his foot back like a bull etc. etc. Honestly, it's best not to encourage him! He mentioned hearing Walking in Memphis while sitting in his car and listening to the radio. During one concert he said "sitting in his radio and listening to the ." Realisation dawns! "Oops, too many Red Bulls" says Michael!
I hope my various correspondents will forgive me if I include a few extra bits about the tour which they have told me about:
A few people were let in to one of Michael's rehearsals by a member of the theatre staff and sat quietly at the back not wanting Michael to know they were there. Michael was watching the singers rehearse and hardly taking part at all for a few of the songs - just calling to the singers from the wings and making them laugh. He had them laughing so much they couldn't continue.
(This reminds me of when another friend of mine once saw him rehearse (again not knowing she was there) and he was busy doing a Hunchback of Notre Dame impression, going round the stage calling out "The Bells! The Bells!")
Apparently, he was almost crying at the end of the concert at Blackpool and then again at Dublin. He hugged himself on both occasions with the huge ovation he got.
At Plymouth something very bizarre happened. After the interval, two women came down the centre aisle and stood in front of the first row of seats on either side of the round raised platform in the middle of the stage. He was in the middle of introducing a song when he saw one of them. "Oh, hello," he said, a little surprised. "Are you going to stand there for the whole show?" She didn't move. He asked her to go and sit down until the end. "You're intimidating me." She didn't move. Then he saw the other one. "It's contagious." They still didn't move. Somehow he managed to get focus back, but it obviously bothered him. They stood there for several songs. Then it came time for "Love on the Rocks" which he usually sings sitting on the edge of the round platform. But if he sat there he would have been right next to these two women. Sure enough, he sat on the ramp at the back of the platform instead. After a couple more songs, he talked about having a party at the end. "But don't come down too early," then looked at the two, "or you'll look silly." One of them finally took the hint and went back to her seat (those near the front applauded), but the other kept on standing there! Finally, security woke up and escorted her to her seat.
Here is my final review as originally posted on the Fan Club Forum:
Well, as everyone knows we have had some absolutely atrocious weather during the past couple of weeks. After a week in Wales I am turning a gentle shade of rust! (A bit like a tan but not as nice to achieve!)
I was really worried that my friend Julie and her husband Steve from Colorado would have to travel back to the States without seeing Michael (their other concert was the cancelled Nottingham one). However, I travelled up from Dorset on the train to meet them outside the stage door ready to wait for Michael and there got to talk to some lovely people I had only met via e-mail before. We spent a nice hour chatting and then Michael arrived in his limousine and got out looking absolutely gorgeous. The photographs are making him look much heavier than he really is by the way. There was a big ooh from the crowd (and I think a huge sigh of relief) and Michael got out to pose for photographs and sign autographs. He remembered Linda from his PBS appearances! Julie was thrilled to bits to finally see Michael in the flesh.
The concert at the RAH was great as usual and this time the Albert Hall had a very good atmosphere, unlike previously when the audiences can be a little restrained. Not too much restraint shown tonight! A few people got on to the stage at the beginning of the rock 'n roll medley but quickly got down again except for one young girl. After making his escape up the ramp exclaiming that he was "surrounded by mad people", Michael rewarded her with a hug and a kiss.
I spoke to Julie after the show and had to laugh when I saw her. She was all flushed in the face, her hair all over the place and full of joy. "Did you enjoy it?" was a little superfluous!
On the second RAH night I parked my car round the back and who should be parking his car round the other corner but Michael's lovely dad Tony! He recognised us straightaway and came over to us and gave us all a big hug and a kiss. He put his arms round our shoulders and we put our arms round his waist and we walked to the Albert Hall like that. He is a real Huggy Bear just like Michael! Tony told us that Michael had had a chest infection (as had many band members) but was now feeling much better.
I have a bone to pick with my friend Andrea. As I had the biggest handbag I was commandeered to carry her illicit booze into the Albert Hall and when Jan asked me to check for the tickets I completely forgot and opened my handbag and Tony saw it all! Oh the shame! He now thinks I'm a raving alcoholic and all I ever drink is lemonade! (Well sometimes it has the odd Cinzano in it.)
Michael had had his hair cut since the previous evening but we were relieved to see that it was just a trim and all the curls were still intact!
Michael told us during the Bournemouth concert that he had been thrown out of his room! He said he had got in at 3am and had been fast asleep at 11.30am when his phone rang and the receptionist asked him when he was checking out. (Wonderful impression of snooty receptionist from Michael here.) Oh, about 4.30 says Michael. "I don't think so" says snooty receptionist. "You have to leave at 12.30am - we need the room!" Then she shut his phone off!!!!!
Can you credit Michael Ball being thrown out of his Bournemouth hotel room when he is doing a concert in Bournemouth that night? Some fans went to the coach wanting a look around and were told that Michael was asleep on the coach NONE TOO CHUFFED! Well done The Hilton Hotel - great advertisement!!!!
By the way, can you imagine some stars being asked to leave and leaving without causing a fuss? Note to The Hilton - try it with Elton John next time! He could do a whole new documentary on Tantrums and Tiaras - this time leaving out the Tiaras!
The trip to Brighton from Poole was very long, wet and windy but worth it all! I was relieved that Michael had put "Why Haven't I Heard From You" back in (he missed it out at Nottingham) but slightly disappointed that he had decided to drop "Think Twice" and "I Don't Want a Lover". It's a shame he dropped two new songs and left a couple of old ones in. Still, the concert was wonderful as ever.
Michael said during the show that as a great actress once said, she prepared for a role once she had the right bra. Then everything fell into place! Dissolved into giggles, started talking again and then got the giggles again! He told Callum to shut him up next time! Oh I love it when he tells little stories and gets the giggles!
We ended the evening with a "picnic" in a cold and windy car park - we had a lot of fun even though we all nearly froze to death! My American friend Mary now thinks that all Brits are mad!
The Brighton concert was slightly marred by people charging to the front too soon and doing it when the lights were down, resulting in a lady falling headfirst and nearly being trampled on. She was OK but had she fallen into the stage it could have been quite serious. Michael saw the incident and the next night at Cardiff made a request that people not go to the front too soon. We were all good girls and did as we were told! I was pleased to see a more orderly run to the front at Cardiff as these charges have been getting ever more dangerous.
All the concerts were wonderful but I think Cardiff was my favourite. Just as well because of the hassle in getting there! As Debbie Norris knows, we left our holiday flat and drove over a little hump back bridge that had just enough room for one car and promptly ended up in a fast flowing river where the road should be! It was very scary. Hugh wanted me to get out and navigate him back across the bridge backwards but I decided:
1. I didn't want to get carried downstream unless it took me past the Cardiff International Arena.
2. I didn't fancy going to see Michael with muddy legs up to my knees.
In the end he managed to reverse back up the bridge with some great difficulty. He was all for giving up and going back but Debbie and I were having none of that! The weather driving into Cardiff was absolutely dreadful, some of the worst conditions I have ever seen. I had grave reservations that, together with the weather and the train services, the Arena would be half empty with people not being able to make it there. We got in and the place was packed to the rafters! What will we go through to get to Michael!
Michael's reception was wonderful and he was obviously delighted to be in Wales and gave a brilliant performance. I was on the third row with a perfect view - what a brilliant way to end the tour.
Next day Hugh took a photograph of the road which had turned into a river and said I should send it to Michael to say I had crossed a raging torrent just to see him! Still, it hardly competes with crossing the Atlantic!
It was all worth it though wasn't it?
Well, that's the end of another tour and I suppose you could be forgiven for thinking that I am one of those people who think that everything about Michael is perfect. It's not so actually. There are certain things that irritate me immensely.
When I first heard the strains of "Something Inside So Strong" I thought "Yes, thank you Michael, we've HEARD that one!" On Ball in the Hall, the Christmas Special, the RAH video and the last tour! (You like that song don't you Michael?)
His version of "Love on the Rocks" is truly wonderful but we got it last year. There are songs he used to sing which he dropped years ago but I would love some of them to make a reappearance. He brings the house down with "Broadway Baby" but he hardly ever sings it. I think some complacency has crept in - perhaps just a little less fooling around during rehearsals, eh Michael?
One thing about Michael actually angers me. He was born in England. Mother Welsh. Father English. When Michael was on stage for the Welsh Assembly singing "I Thank The Lord I'm Welsh" with Catatonia and a bunch of other celebs, most of whom live and work in London, it was positively nauseating. I have it on tape but I never watch it. I am heartily sick of the "proud to be anything but English" routine and I went off Michael for a whole week!
No, I haven't finished yet! Sometimes he comes on telly and has on that awful grey jacket that does nothing for him (he likes that jacket a lot) and matched with a grey pullover underneath and I call out to him on the screen "What HAVE you got on?"
Then he might tell the Montserrat Caballe story about all the bits she has left to touch. Well, he likes that story. And, you never know, someone living in a cave might not have heard it!
So why do I care? To answer that question you would have to delve into why I and many others hold a man we don't really know in very deep affection and care what happens to him. Why do I look at him during interviews and wonder what really makes him tick beneath the dimples and the jocularity?
And coming to that! At the age of 38, Michael's official biography starts with the mysterious "born in the West Midlands" and extends to "likes curry". This website has recently been criticised for containing inaccuracies but it's hardly surprising is it? There's not an awful lot to go on.
No wonder I was inundated with e-mails from many fans who had read my stories on this site and thought I must have inside information. (Sorry, I don't.) Many of the fans who wrote to me were intimidated by people who think any personal details are an intrusion. For instance, if you fancy getting jumped on from a great height, try asking an innocuous personal question on one of the public forums.
However, I am grateful this is not the general consensus of opinion. The very large section on autobiographies and biographies in my local library would consist of mainly empty shelves! I notice that Ronan Keating and Martine McCutcheon, who are not even out of their early 20s, have autobiographies out - in fact I'm expecting a biography on Brooklyn Beckham any day now!
When I first started trying to find out more about Michael back in 1993, I was engrossed in a huge book on the life of Oscar Wilde. I discovered then that it was easier to discover more about the life of someone who died 100 years ago than it was about Michael. For those who still say that wanting to know more about someone than the cardboard cut out version of the performer and nothing else, then I would have to say that I personally prefer human beings in 3D.
Sorry that I have now strayed away from the subject matter which is Tour Memories but I want readers of this to know that I do not sit agog at Michael thinking that everything he does is wonderful.
Did I renew my fan club membership this year? Wouldn't dream of not doing.
Will I be watching the bloody awful noisy Lottery show next week? Yes. Sound firmly turned down until Michael comes on.
Will I be stopping in to watch Open House the week after and setting the video, thereby incurring the scorn of my mother? Yes.
Will I be interrupting my busy Saturday morning routine to listen to the Jonathan Ross show on 2 nd December? Course I will.
Am I looking forward to my 40 th Michael concert, whenever that may be? Oh yes!